Tips to Make Your Exam Season Less Stressful

Like clockwork, exam season has begun again. And regardless of how many times one has experienced it, for some odd reason, the sensation always comes as a bit of a rude shock. At some point, the routine of heading to class, planning weekend shenanigans, working on assignments at the library, and then looking forward to the weekend all over again becomes familiar, and having to give all of that up during finals season is a bit like having the rug pulled from underneath your feet. No matter how you look at it, exam season definitely carries with it a high-stress, high-risk kind of sentiment. Although the only real way of resolving that stress may be to write your exams and get them over with, here are a few tips to help you cope with exam season while it lasts. 

  1. 1. Stock up on (healthy) snacks

    A healthy mind works in a healthy body, so do make sure to feed yourself adequately during this time of the year. Snacking while studying can help you stay motivated and focused during those longer stretches of the night, and I would encourage you to seek out snacks that taste good and make your body feel good. My personal favourites include blueberries, grapes, and apple chips—nothing too fussy to prepare in advance and comes naturally in bite-size pieces (so you’re not tempted to finish off your entire snack stash at once). 

  2. 2. Take advantage of time without classes

    Exam season presents itself as a sort of paradox. On one hand, there are no more classes, so all of a sudden you have a lot of free time during the week. On the other hand, you have exams to study for, so it doesn’t feel entirely appropriate to use your time to do whatever you please. However, I would encourage you to use a bit of that extra time saved from classes to take things a bit more slowly: take a detour on the way back from the examination centre to unwind, take a few minutes to call home, go out for brunch on a day when you don’t have exams, build a snowman, water your plants. 

  3. 3. Ground yourself in some kind of routine outside of exams

    Give yourself regular reminders that you have a life beyond taking exams. This could mean having a non-school-related chat with your roommate, making sure you have breakfast in the morning, keeping your desk tidy, or thinking about what to buy for your friends and family for Christmas. Often, these activities momentarily take your mind off of the stress that exams bring, and they offer a reminder that you do have some semblance of control over your life. 

  4. 4. Keep yourself motivated by thinking about what you’ll do after exams are finished

    This was a piece of advice I received from a high school teacher. He told us that, while thinking about the exam itself might make us anxious, thinking about what comes after is a lot more welcoming. It gives us something to look forward to. So, keep your eye on the prize, and in the meantime, your nose in the books. 

  5. 5. Remind yourself that the outcome doesn’t define you

    In the end, your course grade, or even your GPA, is a poor measure of who you are. Sure, these may be important for your future academic or career goals, but it’s never truly a “make-it-or-break-it” situation. So, yes, do your best, but if the outcome doesn’t meet your expectations, learn to be forgiving and recognize that a failure is never the ending of the story anyway. 

That's all for the study break for now! Best of luck to all of you this finals season. Here's to hoping that your examiners are kind, the hills stay ice-free, and that the holidays come quickly. 


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